Do You Have What it Takes?


High School Prerequisites

  • One year of Algebra, Chemistry, and Biology.
  • If you are deficient in any of these courses, we will accept one semester at the college level.
  • GPA minimum 2.5 at high school level based on a 4.0 scale.

College Prerequisites

  • English Composition I, Microbiology, Anatomy & Physiology I and II, and a General Chemistry I course.
  • All of the prerequisite courses must be passed with a "C" grade or better.
  • GPA minimum 3.0 at the college level based on a 4.0 scale.

General Prerequisites

  • A minimum score of 19 on the ACT, or SAT equivalent, is required.
    NOTE: This score must be an official score received from the ACT testing agency or posted on the applicants high school transcripts and submitted with their application packet.


Admission into the Dental Hygiene program is a two-part process:

  1. You must apply to the University and be accepted
  2. You must apply to the Department of Dental Hygiene and be admitted to the Dental Hygiene program.

NOTE: The Dental Hygiene program is highly selective and competitive.  The final deadline is January 15th.  Interviews are conducted in the spring prior to the fall semester of application. 

A secondary application deadline of March 15 and May 15th is available to applicants who are currently enrolled in a prerequisite course or who missed taking the ATDH examination.  Meeting this March 15 or May 15th deadline places the applicant on an alternate list along with those not accepted in the initial January 15th application review.  Those secondary deadlines are still very competitive windows for admissions.

NOTE:  Acceptance into the University does not ensure acceptance into the Dental Hygiene program.  Following notification of acceptance to the University by the Office of Admissions and Records, the prospective dental hygiene applicant's admission material will be evaluated by the Dental Hygiene Admissions Committee.  Dental Hygiene applicants will be informed of their acceptance or rejection by the Admissions Committee.

  • Two-degree programs are offered by the Department of Dental Hygiene:  The Associate of Applied Science and the Bachelor of Science/Degree Completion.  The Bachelor of Science/Degree Completion may serve as a foundation for further study. NOTE:  Students applying for entry into the B.S. Completion Program must have completed the AAS Degree program and have been issued a license to practice Dental Hygiene.
  • Graduates of the Dental Hygiene program are eligible for the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination and Regional/State Board Examinations throughout the country.
  • A student must be accepted into the University before applying to the Dental Hygiene program.  Admission into the Dental Hygiene program is required prior to enrolling in any Dental Hygiene (DHYG) courses.
  • NOTE:  Acceptance into the University does not ensure acceptance into the Dental Hygiene program.  Following notification of acceptance to the University by the Office of Admissions and Records, the prospective dental hygiene applicant's admission material will be evaluated by the Dental Hygiene Admissions Committee.  Dental Hygiene applicants will be informed of their acceptance or rejection by the Admissions Committee.

Note:  All required information should be included in your AAS APPLICATION PACKET .  The TSU Dental Hygiene Department will not request any information from the university.  It is the applicant's responsibility to make sure their application is completed and submitted on time.

***Incomplete applications will not be accepted or returned***

Other Requirements:

{These items must be completed and submitted to the Department of Dental  Hygiene with your Application Packet}

  • All High School Prerequisite Courses
  • All College Prerequisite Courses
  • All General Prerequisites
  • SAT / ACT Exam
  • TOEFL Exam if Needed
  • Any Required Immunizations should be up to date
  • ATDH - Admissions Test for Dental Hygiene (300 benchmark)

The application for the  ATDH   will appear on The    ATDH   Candidate Guide has now been posted.

Required after admission to the Dental Hygiene Program

  • TB Tests Annually
  • Hepatitis B Vaccine completed or sequence started
  • CPR Certification Every Two Years (BLS Certification for a Healthcare Provider)
  • Physical Exam
  • Professional Liability Insurance


View details


Non-Native English Speaker | Non-US-High-School Graduate |

Applicants whose native language is not English and who have neither graduated from a U.S. high school nor completed a minimum of 30 credit hours at a U.S. post-secondary institution must submit official TOEFL iBT scores. Preference is given to candidates with a minimum score of 100 and listening and speaking section scores of 26 or above on each. 

Dental Hygiene is a very competitive program.  Although the minimum scores are stated for GPA, TOEFL, ACT and SAT, most students accepted into the program have scores significantly higher than the minimum. 

Recommended Essential Functions

For admission to the Associates Degree Dental Hygiene programs at Tennessee State University, students are expected to be able to successfully meet specific technical standards or Essential Functions necessary to succeed in today's workplace.

Students are required to sign the Essential Functions Commitment form indicating their understanding and ability to meet these standards either with or without accommodations (for persons with documented disabilities.) Questions about these technical standards should be directed to the Program Chair.

TSU receives applications from a diverse body of potential students including those with physical disabilities. Reasonable accommodations to help students meet these technical standards will be provided where appropriate. Any student wishing accommodations should contact the Student Academic Support Service. Information regarding Disability Support Services can be found in the Catalog.

In addition to ensuring that students can meet the intellectual, emotional and physical criteria for the Dental Hygiene Program, the student must possess the ability to provide for the safety of patients.

1. Visual Acuity and Perceptual Skills

The practice of clinical dental hygiene requires that the student possess fine motor skills to hold small dental instruments while working within the limited confines of the oral cavity. Depth perception and excellent hand eye coordination are required when using sharp instruments to enter the oral cavity and perform functions within the oral cavity.

2. Other Sensory Skills

Students must have correctable hearing in at least one ear and be able to develop reasonable skills of percussion and auscultation. Sensory and motor innervation of the hand and arm muscles must be intact and functioning normally as fine motor and tactile skills are an essential component of this profession.

3. Motor Skills

Students must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from a patient by palpation and other diagnostic modalities. Students must also be able to perform the motor movement skills necessary to render clinical dental hygiene treatment, and provide dental care. Fine motor skills are expected of every student. It is recommended that each student have full manual dexterity including the functioning of both arms, both wrists, both hands, both thumbs, and three fingers on each hand.

4. Intellectual, Conceptual and Cognitive Skills

Students must have the ability to measure, assess, calculate reason, analyze, and synthesize data. Problem solving, critical thinking and diagnosis (which include obtaining, interpreting, and documenting information) are essential skills. The ability to understand and comprehend three-dimensional relationships is necessary.

5. Communication Skills

The student is expected to be able to communicate clearly at a level of understanding appropriate to the ability of an individual patient to understand. This communication ability is expected both in the oral and written form. The clinical practice of dental hygiene requires the ability to accurately transfer gathered data into a patient record.

6. Emotional Stability/ Personal Temperament

Direct interaction with patients requires that students are able to routinely demonstrate critical thinking, respond calmly, evenly and efficiently, and utilize good listening and communication skills. Students must have the ability to handle the stresses of academically rigorous coursework, as well as stress associated with working in a busy clinical setting with a variety of patients under time and patient management constraints. Time management skills are needed to meet deadlines and time critical tasks associated with professional education and practice. Prioritizing tasks to meet deadlines is expected. Compliance with clinical and workplace rules and regulations related to successful and safe clinical practice is required. The student must possess and demonstrate professional attributes and appearance.

Cognitive Abilities are those related to thinking skills and include such areas as focusing, organizing, recording, evaluating, communicating, and applying. The following are the expectations of the Dental Hygiene Program

  • Comprehend, integrate, and synthesize a large body of information/knowledge in a short time.
  • Analyze complex case studies.
  • Reflect on academic and classroom performance accurately, and identify and implement remedies for improvement.
  • Reflect on classroom and academic performance of others entrusted to their charge and accurately identify problems, pose and implement remedies for improvement.
  • Utilize appropriate and effective spoken, written, and non-verbal communication. Students must be able to understand and speak the English language at a level consistent with competent professional practice.

Affective Abilities are those related to social and emotional skills including interaction with others and ethical beliefs that are consistent with those who work with, and are role models for young people. The following are the expectations of the Dental Hygiene Program.

  • Demonstrate a collaborative work ethic.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation and respect for individual, social, and cultural differences in fellow students, colleagues, staff, instructors, patients, and learners entrusted to them during their external and internal rotations.
  • Demonstrate the ability to appropriately handle situations that may be emotionally, physically, or intellectually stressful.
  • Demonstrate flexibility and the ability to adjust to changing situations and uncertainty in academic and clinical classroom situations.
  • Demonstrate honesty, integrity, initiative, responsibility, and professionalism.
  • Maintain confidentiality of information consistent with work in academic and clinical classroom situations including but not limited to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • Demonstrate self-reflection and responsiveness to professional feedback.

Observation Skills are those skills, which help maintain awareness of people and situations in the context of classrooms, laboratories, and rotations. The following are the expectations of the Dental Hygiene Program.

  • Observe the appropriate level of students' abilities and behaviors accurately during clinical classroom observations, instructional opportunities, and external rotations.
  • Read, comprehend, and interpret information accurately from diagnostic tests, equipment and records of clinical classroom students.

Psychomotor Skills are those physical skills needed to carry out the activities required of a student in education courses and programs. The following are the expectations of the Dental Hygiene Program.

  • Attend lecture and laboratory classes and access laboratories, classrooms, and work cubicles.
  • Attend placements in assignment locations throughout the Nashville Tennessee Area.
  • Accomplish required tasks in academic and field placement settings.
  • Use fine motor skills to accurately and efficiently manipulate equipment for instruction, assessment, and management of clinical classroom students.

Personal Qualities: Responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, integrity, and honesty

  • Responsibility - exerts a high level of effort and perseveres towards goal attainment
  • Self-esteem - believes in own self-worth and maintains a positive view of self
  • Sociability - demonstrates understanding, friendliness, adaptability, empathy, and politeness in group settings
  • Self-management - assesses self accurately, sets personal goals, monitors progress, and exhibits self-control
  • Integrity / honesty - chooses ethical courses of action